“You’re joking. A crystal healer?”

“C’mon, be open minded. It won’t take long, promise.”

Tina pushed the wooden door open, and somewhere above them an almost unhearable fairy tinkle rang out. A person slowly shuffled towards them from a back room. The being was looped and bound within so many layers of purple and gold silk that she couldn’t make out if it was a man or a woman.

“Greetings, travellers.” The falsetto voice offered no confirmation one way or the other. “Look around, please. And if you would like to know any thing, I will tell it to you.”

Tina nodded, casting her gaze over the gleaming treasures on every wall. The shop was barely four metres wide to begin with, but it stretched back and back, seeming to narrow into darkness at the end. Each shelf groaned with delights.

“We’d like to find a little crystal or something each,” Tina informed him. “We’re just passing through. But I’ve heard about this place… About you. I really wanted to come here.”

“Better not rip us off Gandhi,” Mike muttered under his breath, probably a little too loudly.

The stooping creature simultaneously nodded at Tina and raised a cynical eyebrow at Mike. It fetched a long silver tray from high up on a shelf. Upon the platter rested a black velvet cushion, and bountiful piles of colourful polished stones.

“A talisman,” she whispered, half-smiling.

“Nice gravel, brother” Mike gestured a bowing motion.

“Mike! They’re crystals!”

“Yeah, I parked the car on a bunch of ’em in the driveway out there.”

“Quartz for you sir. Good thoughts. Positive attitude.” The shopkeeper pressed an angular lump into Mike’s hand, without making eye contact. Mike wrinkled his nose.

“And this one for you, lady.”

The crystal seller placed a bluish green stone gently in Tina’s outstretched hand. Flat and round except for one jagged corner, it fitted perfectly in her palm. Its colour was fascinating: kingfisher blue streaked with glassy viridian stripes and crystalline bursts of clarity.

It reminded her of tropical rockpools; an anemone in a shipwreck. It was not turquoise, or emerald, or jade, or like any other stone she knew. It was perfect for her.